Quan Yi Fong's long, bumpy road in showbiz

It’s taken Quan Yi Fong all of 26 years to be inducted to the All-Time Favourite Artistes hall of fame, and she has no plans to slow down

Quan Yi Fong's long, bumpy road in showbiz
Quan Yi Fong's long, bumpy road in showbiz
30 Mar 2017

Quan Yi Fong's long, bumpy road in showbiz

The Quan Yi Fong of today has come a long way – she’s been in the biz for a good 26 years – to become one of Singapore’s most established TV personalities and variety hosts. She adds another feather to her many-plumed hat this year as she officially joins the likes of Li Nanxing, Zoe Tay and Fann Wong in the All-Time Favourite Artistes hall of fame.

It hasn’t been all smooth-sailing for Yi Fong, as many can remember, as her name was synonymous with the word trouble for the longest time, with her high-profile divorce with Peter Yu, legal cases over physical tussles and more hogging the headlines on more than one occasion.

The 43-year-old accepts that the ups and downs in her life have helped shape her to who she is today, and doesn’t bother with candy-coating her past, during an interview with Toggle about her special Star Awards achievement this year. “The five things that would come to mind when you hear my name… I think it would be my daughter (Eleanor), that I’ve gone through a divorce, the incident with the taxi driver, that I’ve hosted a lot of programmes and that I’ve won a lot of awards,” she chuckled. “My life is pretty much been a drama in itself and it’s been laid out for everyone to see.”

Pictured: Yi Fong at the Star Awards 2005,. where she picked up her first Best Variety Show Host award in for Love Bites and first Top 10 Most Popular Female Artiste trophy, Yi Fong picking up her 10th and final Top 10 Most Popular Female Artiste trophy in 2016, Yi Fong with her Best Info-ed Programme Show Host and Top 10 Most Popular Female Artiste trophies at the Star Awards 2015

(Continued on next slide: Yi Fong on why she is most grateful, yet apologetic to her fans)

Yi Fong on why she is most grateful, yet apologetic to her fans
Yi Fong on why she is most grateful, yet apologetic to her fans
30 Mar 2017

Yi Fong on why she is most grateful, yet apologetic to her fans

Now that she’s officially ‘graduated’ and will no longer take part in the annual Top 10 Most Popular Female Artistes voting from this year onwards, Yi Fong confessed that this was “an honour that I never even dreamed of having when I was at my lowest, because all I wanted was to make a living for myself.”

Rather than it just being an award to add to her collection, she mused that this is instead a way for her to repay those who have supported her throughout the years. “I always feel the most grateful and sorry at the same time to my fans. When my name was dragged through the mud, they were laughed at when others knew that they were my fans.”

“When people looked at them in a negative light, I felt like I let them down despite all the support that they’ve shown me throughout the years and I didn’t manage to protect them well. I felt guilty that being my fan was possibly be something that they could feel ashamed of. At the time, I promised them that I would stand on my own two feet once again and this is the best way, I think, that I can repay them and tell them that I’ve made it.”

Her fans have clearly played a vital role in her ascent to the top and have never wavered in their support for the host, even through tough times.

“When my depression was at its worst, they would wait for me outside the office with 12 Ferrero Rocher chocolates every single day, telling me to eat them and put some meat on my bones. I was really skinny back then, and they’d be there even on days when I wasn’t around. After that, they’d bring liang cha for me when my voice sounded gravely after eating all that chocolate,” she chuckled.

Pictured: Yi Fong accepting her Top 10 Most Popular Female Artiste awards in 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011

(Continued on next slide: Yi Fong on what you shouldn’t expect in her graduation speech)

Yi Fong on what you shouldn’t expect in her graduation speech
Yi Fong on what you shouldn’t expect in her graduation speech
30 Mar 2017

Yi Fong on what you shouldn’t expect in her graduation speech

Widely acknowledged for her gift of the gab, Yi Fong laughed that she did feel the pressure of delivering her graduation speech at the 2017 Star Awards on April 16.

“I’m definitely worried that I’ll cry!” she giggled. “I start crying when I see others give their speeches on stage because I feel so proud of them. I’ve been thinking about it since I came home from filming my travel programme – do I want to be like Elvin (Ng), and be all philosophical, or do I want to go for a Chicken Soup for the Soul approach instead?”

“Ultimately, I think I’ll go for a simple speech that focuses on balancing my emotions instead of thinking of listing out a never-ending number of people I have to thank,” Yi Fong added wryly. “I have too many people to thank, anyway. For those who have fast-tracked to the top, you wouldn’t think so much about those who have stuck by you, but I have too many bad things happen to me that I have so many people to thank.”

Pictured: Yi Fong accepting her Top 10 Most Popular Female Artiste awards in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Congratulations on another milestone in your career, Yi Fong! Click through our gallery as we look at the five key points of Yi Fong’s life, as told by the star.

Yi Fong’s pride and joy: Her daughter, Eleanor
Yi Fong’s pride and joy: Her daughter, Eleanor
30 Mar 2017

Yi Fong’s pride and joy: Her daughter, Eleanor

While Yi Fong has cemented her place on our little red dot, she chuckled that “Eleanor’s place is elsewhere, probably in China”. Currently based in China, Yi Fong shared that she’s unsure if Eleanor will be able to make it back to Singapore to watch her ascend to the All-Time Favourite Artistes pedestal this year, because her work now takes precedence and she can’t come and go at a whim.

With the 17-year-old’s career going swimmingly – she recently landed the lead role in youth drama Fantastic Baby – we asked her proud mum if heading to China was what she and Eleanor had always envisioned.

“I remember when she was in Primary 5, she once scored only two or three marks in total for her Chinese language paper. I joked that if she dropped her pen on the paper she might have scored better,” Yi Fong laughed. “I didn’t want it to affect our relationship but I felt that it wouldn’t reflect well if she had such terrible marks, especially when I’m her mum!”

She shared that they considered sending Eleanor somewhere where she wouldn’t need to speak Mandarin with the pair seriously considering Vienna as an option, as Eleanor would be able to pursue her love for drawing there.

“I told her I wouldn’t be able to go with her because I’d have to work even harder to earn money. She cried really hard and said that she wasn’t a filial daughter,” Yi Fong continued. “Although I told her that it was alright, deep down in my heart, I thought, ‘How can this girl think of leaving her mom’s side just because of a language?!’”

Fate works in the most mysterious of ways, as Eleanor headed to China when she was 15, and Yi Fong chuckled that it was karma for Eleanor because of her unfilial thoughts when she was younger. “The two of us laughed really hard when we remembered how ugly she looked when she was crying! You never know what will happen in life.”

Pictured: Yi Fong with Eleanor at the Star Awards 2015 (left) and on her trips back to Singapore (right)

(Continued on next slide: Yi Fong on the flip side of staying true to yourself)

Yi Fong on the flip side of staying true to yourself
Yi Fong on the flip side of staying true to yourself
30 Mar 2017

Yi Fong on the flip side of staying true to yourself

In 2008, Yi Fong announced that she and Peter Yu would be getting a divorce, much to the surprise of many. The pair has respectfully maintained their silence over their past relationship and avoid mentioning each other in interviews. However, the media flurry over the split when it was first announced led to widespread speculation over the reason behind their divorce, how their careers would go from there and more.

You’d think that having gone through such a dramatic life, that Yi Fong would have an upper-hand in the acting game, having gone through a roller-coaster of emotions back then. “Honestly, I don’t think I’m cut out for acting,” she chuckled. “I tried it many times but whenever I say my lines, I can’t make the transformation to become my character. Directors have commented, ‘You still sound like you’re Quan Yi Fong.’”

She continued, “I’ve been discussing the possibility of acting in a new drama or movie with my managers a lot. I daresay that all hosts can act, but not all actors can host. I’ve been so true to myself that I can’t not be Quan Yi Fong and my tone and style will always sound like me – that’s my flaw. With just one word, people can recognise that it’s me; that’s how distinct it is.”

“I don’t know how to not be Quan Yi Fong,” the host chuckled.

Pictured: Yi Fong, Peter and Eleanor at the Star Awards 2007 (left) and Yi Fong in 2005 drama Oh Mother!

(Continued on next slide: The ups and downs of Yi Fong’s career)

The ups and downs of Yi Fong’s career
The ups and downs of Yi Fong’s career
30 Mar 2017

The ups and downs of Yi Fong’s career

In June 2010, Yi Fong landed herself in hot soup after a dispute with a taxi driver while she was on the way to the airport with Eleanor and her personal assistant. She reportedly damaged the taxi, and was formally charged in court for the incident.

This wasn’t her first brush with the law, as she previously got into a fight with a bowling alley assistant, among other incidents. Despite all this, Yi Fong has emerged through the flames like a phoenix reborn and is a better person today.

“From the time I debuted, to when I moved to Channel U and moved back to be under The Celebrity Agency… Even those who stood by me when I was going through my divorce – every single time, it was different people who held their hands to me when I was down,” she explained.

These incidents have given her a clear idea of who has stuck by her side through thick and thin. “Everyone in the variety circuit here is who I’m the most grateful to have. Nobody ever shunned me because of the negative headlines and such. They would never avoid casting me because of the possible backlash – they always made their casting decisions based on who was the most suitable for the programme, and they always held their doors open to me.”

Pictured: Yi Fong after appearing in court in 2011 for the incident with the taxi (left), Yi Fong with Bryan Wong in 2006’s What’s Art

(Continued on next slide: Yi Fong on why she can’t point out any single programme as her crowning jewel)

Yi Fong on why she can’t point out any single programme as her crowning jewel
Yi Fong on why she can’t point out any single programme as her crowning jewel
30 Mar 2017

Yi Fong on why she can’t point out any single programme as her crowning jewel

Kicking off her career in 1992, Yi Fong quickly became the darling of the variety circuit and was well-known for her sharp tongue and witty reactions.

Till date, she’s a familiar face on variety programmes and has shared the stage – or set – with numerous big names, local or foreign. Take Taiwanese veteran star Mickey Huang, for example: he named her as the local star he most looks forward to working with, and commented that they have an amazing chemistry when they host a show together.

“I’ve never felt pressured when I take on a show; I’m always excited about a new programme because I know that the production team has confidence in me, and I always do my homework before we start filming,” Yi Fong mused.

She shared, “I don’t think I’ve ever offended anyone in the many years that I’ve been working in this circle. I’ve definitely argued with others and told people off but we became friends after that.”

“When we’re at work, we make our decisions based on the situation at hand, not because of who we’re working with. I used to voice my objections in a pretty nasty way but these days, I’ve changed my style to a softer approach where I grouse about it in a joking manner, but I’ll still do whatever it is to get my job done at the end of the day.”

Because of this, she chuckled that every single one of the projects that she’s worked on is like her baby – all the hard work, research and planning by every single one of the staff on the team contributed to the final product that viewers see on air.

Pictured: (Clockwise from left) Yi Fong with Mark Lee on Neighbourhood Chef 2, Yi Fong with Lee Teng on The 4 Chefs 3, Yi Fong on Home Away From Home

(Continued on next slide: Yi Fong’s multiple awards doesn’t mean she’s resting on her laurels)

Yi Fong’s multiple awards doesn’t mean she’s resting on her laurels
Yi Fong’s multiple awards doesn’t mean she’s resting on her laurels
30 Mar 2017

Yi Fong’s multiple awards doesn’t mean she’s resting on her laurels

Given the long list of achievements on Yi Fong’s list – not only is she an All-Time Favourite Artiste, but she’s also picked up awards for the Best Variety Show Host, Best Entertainment Presenter, Best Info-ed Programme Host, among others – we asked Yi Fong what’s next on her list of awards that she’d most like to win.

“The Best Variety Show Host, of course,” she grinned.”

Retirement, on the other hand, is not something that Yi Fong is considering – at the moment, at least. “As long as directors feel that I’m suitable for a programme, I’ll say yes even if I’m really tired or I’m not particularly interested in it.” The reason she gave is simple: “I don’t want others to feel disappointed because of me.”

“It’s not about how long I want to continue being in the variety circle – as long as we can improve and expand, I’d love very much to be a part of the growth,” she explained. “I’m anticipating the day that we can go international.”

At the end of the day, variety will always be Yi Fong’s bread and butter, come what may. Revealing that she has no fixed plans for the coming year at the time of our interview, she concluded, “No matter what’s in store for me, my hope is that I’ll always be a variety host.”

Pictured: Yi Fong at the Star Awards 2016

Click on for more highlights of Yi Fong’s career!

Yi Fong hosting Buzzing Cashier with Kym Ng
Yi Fong hosting Buzzing Cashier with Kym Ng
30 Mar 2017

Yi Fong hosting Buzzing Cashier with Kym Ng

Yi Fong’s first international award was the Best Entertainment Presenter for Buzzing Cashier at the Asian Television Awards 2008

Yi Fong at the Asia Rainbow TV Awards 2011
Yi Fong at the Asia Rainbow TV Awards 2011
30 Mar 2017

Yi Fong at the Asia Rainbow TV Awards 2011

More recently, Yi Fong was presented the Best Programme Host (Female) award for Life Transformers 2 at the Asia Rainbow TV Awards 2011.

In 2015, Yi Fong picked up her first Best Info-ed Programme Show Host for Where To Stay
In 2015, Yi Fong picked up her first Best Info-ed Programme Show Host for Where To Stay
30 Mar 2017

In 2015, Yi Fong picked up her first Best Info-ed Programme Show Host for Where To Stay

Yi Fong is also adept at both hosting and acting out short skits during live shows
Yi Fong is also adept at both hosting and acting out short skits during live shows
30 Mar 2017

Yi Fong is also adept at both hosting and acting out short skits during live shows

Yi Fong’s last drama was 2009’s The Illusionist, which aired on Channel U
Yi Fong’s last drama was 2009’s The Illusionist, which aired on Channel U
30 Mar 2017

Yi Fong’s last drama was 2009’s The Illusionist, which aired on Channel U

Yi Fong's last acting gig was in last year's movie, Young & Fabulous
Yi Fong's last acting gig was in last year's movie, Young & Fabulous
30 Mar 2017

Yi Fong's last acting gig was in last year's movie, Young & Fabulous

When probed about why she decided to take on this project, Yi Fong chuckled that she "has no idea how the director managed to help me stop being Quan Yi Fong for long enough to film this!"

Photo: Encore Films

Yi Fong was a part of the Don't Worry Be Happy cast back in 1996
Yi Fong was a part of the Don't Worry Be Happy cast back in 1996
30 Mar 2017

Yi Fong was a part of the Don't Worry Be Happy cast back in 1996

This is one of her more iconic acting roles, as she is still fondly remembered for her role as the ditzy Zhu Zhu.

Yi Fong with Bryan Wong and Kym Ng while filming Love Bites 2
Yi Fong with Bryan Wong and Kym Ng while filming Love Bites 2
30 Mar 2017

Yi Fong with Bryan Wong and Kym Ng while filming Love Bites 2

She scored her first Best Variety Show Host award for her stint on this programme.

WATCH: Revisit Quan Yi Fong's 26-year showbiz career

Related:
Confessions of a celebrity mum and former neurotic: Quan Yi Fong

Watch this year's All-Time Favourite Artiste graduates' past shows on Toggle:
Watch Elvin Ng's past shows here.
Watch Joanne Peh's past shows here.
Watch Quan Yi Fong's past shows here.

Visit the Star Awards 2017 official microsite for more.

Catch The Road to Star Awards 2017 LIVE every Sunday from March 26 to April 9, 9pm, on Channel 8 or Toggle.
Catch the Star Awards Walk of Fame on April 16, Sunday, 5.30pm on Channel 8 or Toggle.
Catch the 2017 Star Awards ceremony LIVE on April 16, Sunday, 7pm on Channel 8/U or Toggle.

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